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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

The requirements for executing a will in California

A will is a useful testamentary tool for outlining how a person would like their property disposed of upon their death. It can be used to serve other purposes as well, but if a will fails to satisfy the statutory requirements set forth by the California legislature, it may not be recognized as valid. This post will briefly discuss the requirements of California wills, but readers are reminded that they must seek their own legal counsel when preparing their wills, as this post does not give legal guidance.

First, wills can only be made by individuals who are at least 18 years of age. Additionally, that individual must be of sound mind when they prepare their will for execution. While it can be easy to prove that a person is at least 18 years old, it can be more difficult to understand what it means to be of sound mind.

Many of the considerations regarding a will maker's mental fortitude revolve around their capacity to remember certain facts. If the will maker cannot recall what property they own or why they wish to prepare a will, then they may be found to be lacking a sound mind. If the creator of the will cannot remember how their relatives will be affected by their will, then their will may fail.

Additionally, individuals who suffer from certain mental disorders and illnesses may not have the requisite capacity to execute wills. However, if a person is an adult and of sound mind there are two ways their will can qualify as valid. In both cases the will must be written, as California does not recognize oral wills, and for a will to be properly executed it must be signed by two witnesses. Wills that lack witness signatures are called holographic wills, and they must satisfy other requirements in order to be valid.

The creation of a will does not have to be a difficult process, but it must be done properly so that it is recognized as valid when the creator passes away. The invalidation of a will may create confusion after the death of its creator, as their estate is placed into probate and their wishes are ignored. Those who have questions about creating a valid will may want to seek the advice of an attorney.

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My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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